Monday, 27 October 2014

Halkian Days IV (!!)

I suppose everyone wants something different out of a holiday. During the past decade or so of our UK lives though, we simply wanted to relax, recharge our batteries and not be bothered about anything except doing very little in a suitably conducive environment. Here we are now starting our 10th year living in Greece and, as I've said before, we have come to a point where we wanted to experience again that feeling we used to get when going on Greek holidays; sounds odd I know, but true.

Let's face it, wherever you live on this little globe of ours, you have to get on with daily life. There are dishes to be washed (well, in my case there are), cars to be cleaned, gardens to be tended, DIY jobs to be botched, shopping to be done, beds to be made, washing and ironing, cooking, cleaning... Feel relaxed now, do we? 

See, so you understand how, even living somewhere like this, one gets to feeling that it would be nice to shoot off somewhere and take it easy for a while. I may have said this before, and the older I get the more I have a tendency to repeat things (as my ever-loving dearly-beloved likes to continually remind me), but Halki ticks all the boxes we used to have in our "how to have a really good laid-back Greek holiday" list.

Not wishing to boast, OK, but here is a list of all the places in Greece that we've visited (including places where my wife has family of course): Athens, Pireaus, Kalamos, Oropos, Corinth, Epidauros, Nafplion, Argos, Corfu, Paxos, Anti-Paxos, Zakynthos, Kefallonia, Ithaka, Patra, Thessalonika, Halkidiki, Thassos, Meteora, Ioannina, Parga, Skiathos, Skoppelos, Evia, Loutraki, Glifada, Aegina, Agistri, Poros, Hydra, Spetses, Naxos, Santorini, Samos, Leros, Kos, Symi, Crete (various parts) and, yup ...Rhodes!! I'm tempted to try a Greek version of that old song "I been everywhere sport..." but that would be too silly. I'm only making the point that, since we were ever in search of the "real" Greece, we like to think that we know where to find it by now.

Tell you what, it's on Halki. Now, if you're looking to crawl all over a bunch of old ruins then maybe don't go there. It's not "long" on ruins, but what it IS "long" on is a picturesque harbour, little bobbing multi-coloured fishing boats (that still go out to fish), superb traditional tavernas and very friendly local people. There are no crowds, even in the high season, and there is no airport, thus deterring many mainstream tourists from making the effort to get there. Elsewhere on this blog I've already posted a link to Nissia Holidays, but I'll plug them again here. They do a lot on Halki and they took up the mantle where Laskarina left off some years ago. My wife and I had gone to Symi with Laskarina and, although it was a mite expensive, it was worth every penny to be staying in a traditional Symiot house with a harbour view TDF.

There are only two or three beaches and they're all modest in size. Our favourite is definitely Ftenagia, which you reach by following a well-worn path over the rocks from the far South end of the harbour, up behind the Police station, which is right on the sea front. There is a taverna there, a couple of photos of which I've posted before, but here are some anyway (including some I posted before)...

Look closely - you can just see a head under the table, bottom left (see text below)

My other half does the Dr. No thing

S'funny isn't it? I mean, that shot above of my plate of chips (no, I'm not going off on that one again, except to say, click this!) and my bottle of Heineken (they didn't have a Fix!) with an Alpha glass doesn't show the table to my left, where the proprietor was sitting, a genial old chap who's probably about 70-ish and ready for a natter with anyone who happens to be within earshot. Suited me fine. Beneath his table was a toddler (see the other photo with the caption mentioning this) who I'd have estimated couldn't have been more than three, and she had a little dog sprawled all over her legs while she busily tapped away dextrously on a tablet, evidently playing some game or other. She was leaning her back against one of the table legs. The dexterity that her fingers showed as they raced all over the screen on that device made me wonder how young she'd been when her parents first put one in front of her. Tell you what, if they ever need someone to play a crewmember in a Star Trek movie, sitting behind the captain in the bridge looking like they're analysing something in the ship's "system" with great aplomb, here's your girl. Like lightning those fingers were.

The amusing thing to me was the fact that her little dog evidently wanted some of her attention, but wasn't getting any. Occasionally it would nuzzle its nose over the iPad, or whatever tablet it was, only to have it brushed aside by a hand which hardly paused from the job in hand. Then the dog would stand up, turn a round a few times and try and nestle it's head against the child's chest, only to have it unceremoniously pushed away while the kid got on with the job of racking up the points in her game.

Just as an experiment, I extended a hand and gave the dog one of those little "spv" noises (usually accompanied the sucking in the cheeks, got it?) that we all seem to do when addressing someone of either feline or canine origin, and quick as a flash it got up and trotted over to me, where I gave it a little of the TLC it evidently craved but wasn't getting from the child. As soon as I stopped petting it, without complaint it just sauntered back to beneath the other table and nestled itself on to the child's legs again. I rather took to the little chap (or perhaps "chap-esse" I dunno about such things).

On the subject of iPads, or tablets, whatever, you can see from another two of those photos above, a woman seated near the front of the terrace, probably in her late middle age, certainly not a "yoof",  also concentrating on her device, which is placed on the table in front of her. She'd retreated to the taverna almost as soon as she and her partner arrived at the beach, which was only a few yards ahead of us. In the four hours or so that we spent on that beach, she never left that chair. Her bloke was a tablet-widower for the entire time. Now, maybe this suited him just fine, but we couldn't help but wonder about their relationship nevertheless. Plus the poor taverna owner had to surrender that table against all other potential diners for the duration, just for the return on a Greek salad and a couple of drinks. She wanted the wi-fi and she was going to use it.

Hey ho, or ho hum and all that. Here I go again fearing for the sanity of our species.

We dined out on exquisite fare over two evenings - once at Maria's, where we received a warm welcome and a modest discount from Maria and her hubby, whose name I once again forget - but never his permanent warm smile, and once at Babis, where Zois did us proud too. The amiable chap who runs the large cafe bar right on the jetty wouldn't let us pay for our drinks, although I did insist on paying for my delicious hazelnut and caramel ice cream which I forced myself to eat purely to show kindness to them for all the work they put in by providing it (!?**) after we'd eaten at Taverna Babis. 

Before we boarded the Fedon for the 4.00pm sailing back to Kamiros Skala on the Friday, we took lunch with dear Kyria Levkosia and her daughter Kiki, who sat with us (there was hardly anyone in) while we partook of Levkosia's delicious homemade dolmades, a Greek salad, some fresh bread and home-made cheese balls.

Simple it may have been, but she really only opened up for us, since at this time of the season there's not much custom to be had during the midday hours. When we arrived, which would have been around 1.00pm, after a long trudge from the bar right next door, the place was devoid of life. The kitchen door, though, was open, so I walked in a called out "anyone here?" to which no reply was forthcoming. 

Levkosia's rather large-of-girth son (not Mihalis, who sadly for us was over on the nearby uninhabited isalnd Alimia checking on his olive trees) turned up on his dirt-bike, told us that yes his mum was coming and then disappeared again. After waiting a while longer and deciding that perhaps things weren't going to go according to plan, I once more poked my head inside the kitchen door where, just ahead of me was a long stainless steel unit, from behind which up popped Levkosia's head in such a manner as to faze me for a split second. She'd been asleep behind that counter all the time! In very short order she'd rustled up our lunch from nothing, explaining that she'd expected us for the evening and had planned to make us one of her delicious vegetarian moussakas. Aw drat!!! Now we'd have to wait for next year as we apologised profusely whilst explaining that we were leaving at four.

The entire duration of our three-day-two-night stay was blessed with perfect weather, including warm evenings, not always guaranteed in the second week of October. Naxos we'd fallen in love with, true, but to get there from Rhodes is not much different expense-wise from going back to the UK. Here we were sitting on the rear of the top deck of the Fedon on our way home to Rhodes, discussing the fact that we can get to Halki for pennies really, leaving our car right at the port too. Plus, Halki is for us exactly what we'd always looked for in a Greek holiday. The fact that we know a lot of people there from the three years when I went every week all through the season was an added bonus.

An even more wonderful treat was the fact that the sea for our return crossing was, as the Greeks say, "like oil" - that's olive oil of course!! They say that when we'd say "like glass" or "like a millpond"

The beloved, the wind gently raising her hair in the warm afternoon sunshine, did bemoan the fact that I'd told her on many occasions of the dolphins that I'd seen while making this crossing. Oh how she'd like to see them - just once. 

I think they must have been listening. Right on cue two adult dolphins began giving us a display that would have done a "Sea World" show proud. They were leaping in graceful arcs right out of the water from what seemed to us to be pure joie de vivre. In fact, the sighting was of such an exception that Captain Vasilis emerged from the bridge with his camera to try and grab a photo or two.

Talking of photos, here are a few more we took on Halki...

This was taken during the walk out to Ftenagia Beach

We had a full moon whilst there. This was shortly after moon-rise with my inadequate camera, taken from the balcony of our "Marcos" room.

An evening study as we made our way down to the harbour to eat and...

...the same scene as above in daylight. Just behind the Marcos Rooms.
A rather nice shop just off the seafront during the evening

Not sure what this was, but may have been a grain store in times past.

Once back on Rhodean soil, we took a brief excursion up to nearby Kritinia Kastro before heading home...

The rather chirpy cafe bar just below the castle. Note the signs are in Russian!

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Call Me Old Fashioned...

Being, as we are, quite unused at this time of the year to actually havng the odd day off, as the season winds down to its finish next week, we took ourselves off for a nice walk down to the local Gré Cafe this morning for a frappé and a good dose of people-watching.

Time was when if you sat in a café here in Greece of a morning the audible buzz would be close to deafening as the clientele argued vociferously over politics, the economy and sport. It was one of the aspects of siting in a café that I really loved. Greeks will shout over eachother in such a way as to convince the unitiated that they're about to resort to fisticuffs, when in fact they're all bosom buddies simply discussing things in the way that Greeks do - vehemently! They'll aways arise to leave and part as dear friends though, no need to worry. I remember many years ago, when, after having been married a while and got used to the way Greeks discuss things, the better half and I were often accused of always arguing in front of our friends, when all we were doing was discussing things à la Grec! I'd simply acquired the technique from her family and we still use it to this day, unconsciously of course, but it hasn't stopped some who don't really know us from thinking we're at eachother's throats!!

Down at the Gré Café this morning there were plenty of Greeks among the clientèle, plus a smattering of tourists and what appeared to be hotel workers from other countries too, preparing for their imminent trips home. It didn't take us more than a few sips of our frappé though to detect a decidedly more muted atmosphere than of old. The reason? Mobile phones. I surrepticiously took a couple of snaps, look...

Now, what do you spot in both photos? Everyone, and I mean everyone, is on their perishing phone! In the far right of the 2nd photo above is a priest and his women (?!), yet they too are busily isolating themselves from the society around them in the same manner as everyone else. Where was the bonhomie and spirited chat like in the olden days? I'll tell you, it was given up to the constant search for that next text message, or for some trivial post on a social media site, I could go on! Don't get me wrong there either. I'm on Facebook. My point is - we are becoming slaves of things that ought to serve us!!!

Call me old fashioned, but am I alone in fearing for the structure of human society as we knew it? Note the past tense there. OK, so I have a mobile phone, I have a laptop and an iPad. I love technology folks, but oughtn't it to be our slave and not the other way around? No one seems to know how to talk to eachother any more. That couple in the first photo, they sat there for over a hour and not a word passed between them!! It's bad folks, bad!

So, to lighten the mood, here are a few shots I took randomly of late...

The Petalas Taverna on the beach at the "Real Kiotari". If you've been before it may confuse you because up until this season it was called the Paralia.

Early morning late September, above St. Paul's Bay, as I was arriving with my guests for our last Bay-to-Bay excursion of the season.

Can I have your attention please?
Right! That's much better.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Halkian Days III

The boat tied up just across the quay from Taverna Babis, which is run by my friend Zois, along with wife Soula and sister-in-law Katerina, who had a baby just over a year ago. The last time I'd seen her she had a very large 'bump'! Zois it was who I photographed with a freshly-caught Tuna a couple of years ago, see the post "Smile Please" from September 2012. That post also carries quite a few more photos showing how beautiful the harbourfront of Halki is.

We'd booked our accommodation by phone, after I'd called Kyria Mary who runs the "Marco" Studios, in advance. Once again, it was a couple of years ago when I'd first snapped the sign on her front gate so as to have a record of the phone number for an occasion just such as this. The photos below, though were taken this time round...

Clicking on this photo you'll get the larger view, the phone number is [+30] 6946-250612. Our room was upstairs and far left

This is the street where the rooms are situated. You can see the gate on the right. It's two minutes up from the harbour.
We tugged our case and holdall up the street and entered the gate and climbed the few steps to Mary's front door. There's no doubt in this particular case that the owners live downstairs. Once we reached the terrace below the balcony it was littered with the toys of an evident grandchild or two, plus, as usual, a table [regulation oilcloth tablecloth spread over it] and chairs, a scattering of potted plants, basil amongst them of course. The front door was open (and it was never closed the whole time we were there) and the kitchen was in a small whitewashed outhouse at the far end of the terrace and the opposite side from the house.

I called out, "Κανείς μέσα;" which basically means "Anybody in?" In no time at all our hostess emerged from the kitchen, wiping her hands on a dishcloth. She was of average height, stocky of build and smiled immediately at us, revealing a set of gnashers that hadn't had the benefit of a dentist's attention for many a year. "Ah, καλός τους!" [no exact translation for this expression, but near enough it's like "to their good" and is often used to mean "Good to you both", even though it's in the third person] she exclaimed, walking forward and proferring her hand in welcome. She wore a black dress, indicating that she's lost her husband. I'd guess that she's about 60, so he may have died young, tragically. She told us which was our room and waved away my attempts at sorting out the cash. 

"Aach, see me before you go on Friday," she said, "get yourselves settled in and I hope it's all to your satisfaction."

It's a long time since we stayed in an older property, but it's something we used to do with great regularity many years ago, having always tried to keep away from hotels and other tourists. We twisted the key, which was hanging in the lock and pushed the door open to catch our first glimpse of our home for the next couple of nights...

This was actually taken as we prepared to leave on the Friday, hence the dishevelled bedclothes! The bathroom door was opposite the kitchen unit and the wardrobe at the far end on the right.
Yes, there was a TV, but we didn't bother with it.
This kitchen unit could well do with replacing. The right hand side is a fridge which no longer works, hence the free-standing fridge to the right. But, there WAS a travel kettle, definitely a plus-point when you need an Earl Grey urgently.
That balcony on the left is ours. You can see the recently installed TV antenna just beside it, where a pair of collared doves would sit daily and entertain us, see next photo.
The male kept trying, but the female was having none of it."I vant to be alone" she kept cooing. Didn't know I spoke "dove" did you?
A shot taken from the balcony early on the Thursday morning, as the Dodecanese Express was just docking. This ferry only comes in on Thursdays and Sundays, but it does come from Rhodes Commercial Harbour and so is convenient for anyone staying in Rhodes Town.

This is the view thru the rear shutters, next to the wardrobe.

This is the kind of view I like to wake up to on holiday!

As you can tell, I have a thing about old wooden shutters!! This is the view out of the bahroom window.

Looking through the front window, just above the sofa.

Of course, the first thing I did was go over the whole place with a toothcomb. The kitchenette, as referred to in one of the photo captions above, was a little dated and slightly tatty inside. There was, though, a decent enough set of cutlery and crockery for two people in the cupboard under the sink and the wall unit above. The hot water tap on the kitchen sink didn't work at all, but the one over the bathroom sink was fine, as was the shower, which, as expected didn't have a curtain and thus necessitated that one remember to relocate the toilet roll to the top of the vanity unit before taking a shower! The bathroom vanity unit was a cheapo once-white plastic affair with plenty of storage in its drawers and cupboards, but parts of it were damaged from cigarette burns. Why do people do that? The lower 30% or so of the mirror in said unit (which was pretty modest size-wise) was all gone wierd like mirrors do when the mercury on the back is eaten away as if by lichen or something. I know it's not lichen, but it gives that effect on the glass if you know what I mean.

The cistern above the loo was one of those narrow rectangular affairs and the downpipe, where it entered the rear of the toilet bowl could be pulled in and out. The first we realised this was when one of us flushed the cistern and a virtual shower of water spurted out from behind the pan and instantly turned half of the bathroom floor into a lake. At least it was clean water. Once I'd pushed the pipe into the rear of the bowl and gave it a periodical check, that problem was fixed. The toilet bowl was scarcely fixed to the floor and wobbled a bit, which was doubtless the reason why the downpipe tried to escape on occasion.

There was always plenty of hot water and, of course, now that Halki has its own desalination plant, there is never a shortage, which is a huge improvement over past years. The mains pressure is good too, resulting in some pretty satisfactory showers, even though they resulted in half of the bathroom getting drenched in the process. That, though, is the way it always seems to have been in village rooms or studios in older properties. It's almost kind of quaint.

I may be creating a poor impression of the Marcos Studios, so I want to redress the balance a little. Firstly, for years and years seasoned Grecophiles will identify with what I've described above. What really counts is the fact that the bedlinen was spotlessly clean and there was a plentiful supply of fresh towels laying on each of the beds. There were two pillows available for both of us and blankets if needed, which on this occasion they weren't. The view was simply exquisite as we sat and ate our breakfast on the balcony and - when all is said and done - it's only a base. We were very comfortable and loved the place, warts and all. Yes, it could do with some modernisation over the winter period. Whether it will get any is doubtful. But, would we stay there again? Yup, absolutely - and we doubtless will too.

Once we'd sorted out all our "stuff" (watch this, it's brill!!), we were soon on our way to the beach for a serious session of chilling.

Another episode will follow soon.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Halkian Days II

The drive from Kiotari to Kamiros Skala is pretty convoluted whichever way you take it. You can head north as far as Kolymbia, then take the left up past Seven Springs and through the villages of Arhipoli and Eleoussa, finally passing through Dimilia and hitting the west coast road somewhere near Fanes, where you go left and follow the coast all the way down past Ancient Kamiros and on to Kamiros Skala. Alternatively, you can head south to Gennadi and from there go right and across the island to Apolakkia, then head north through Monolithos, Siana, through the mountainous pine forests to Kritinia and down to Kamiros Skala from the south. It's a bit of a Hobson's choice, but I reckon slightly quicker the southern way, which takes about an hour.

We took off at around 8.00am for a 9.15 sailing from Kamiros Skala and no sooner had we turned on to the Apolakkia road at Gennadi, but we found ourselves behind a fairly hefty, shiny black Nissan 4x4 that appeared to be stuffed to the limit with bodies (live ones, OK?). Fortunately, the Nissan was going at a pretty acceptable pace and thus I was able to tail it for quite a long way. Once we'd passed through Apolakkia, however, it began to lose me and the only conclusion we could draw was that the driver knew this road very well. Emphasis there on the "very", since from here on heading northward it gets extremely curly!!! It goes up and down, around blind bends and frequently has an edge that, if you were to let your wheel slip off of, you'd be either in a ditch or on your head, perhaps even wrapped around a pine tree trunk, in very short order. Kerbs? What are they then?

It's very disconcerting too when you reach Monolithos, because you climb a hill to a t-junction, right beside the Panorama taverna, where the sign for Siana, pressed back against the wall immediately in front of you, tells you to go right. Dutifully obeying, you find yourself climbing steeply into the forested hills and you get the distinct impression that you're going back the way you came. This feeling lasts for several kilometers too. Climbing ever higher and seeing nothing but pine-clad hillsides, you get distinctly uneasy until you arrive at the sign announcing the fact that you're entering the village of Siana. On seeing that sign you can relax a bit, 'cos you know you must be on the right road, but with no sign of the sea for what seems like ages your bearings all all over the shop.

As we entered Siana, which was still waking up, since it was only about 8.45am, we were able to get within a hundred metres or so of the black Nissan once again, who we'd both agreed by now must be making the same trip as we were, heading to Kamiros Skala to meet the Fedon. Why else would anyone be out here in the wilds at this time of day, especially driving with such purpose? Of course, once we'd exited the top end of the village, I could see from his exhaust that he'd dropped a gear and was soon putting distance between us yet again. if I'd tried to keep up with him we'd have left the road somewhere where it would have taken rescuers a couple of weeks to find us.

This shot of Kritinia Kastro courtesy of
Eventually you start to descend, ever weaving this way and that as the road curves relentlessly and undulatingly through a seemingly endless forest, and when you finally get a glimpse of the Kritinia Kastro, standing proud a couple of hundred feet above the Aegean Sea, you relax as you now know for sure that it is indeed the right road and Kamiros Skala can now be only a few minutes away.

Taking the left on to the road leading down to the quayside, we turned left again into the ample parking area, where - sure enough - that black Nissan was already parked up, extracted both ourselves and our baggage from the car, locked it up and walked the couple of hundred metres past a taverna or two down to the quay, where the Fedon was tied up, a small knot of people standing beside her on the quay.

As we approached the gangway, where the few people were hanging around near the portable ticket desk for the boat, I caught sight of Vasili the captain among the modest throng. Now I hadn't actually seen him face-to-face since some time during the 2013 summer season, so I tried not to expect him to remember me.

Vasili is very similar-looking to the UK comedian and actor Lee Evans (he was in that movie "Funny Bones" and "Mousehunt" too), of whom I'm a bit of a fan. Every time I see Vasili I half expect him to bend his knees à-la monkey pose, extend his arms out to each side horizintally and then let his hands dangle and swing from the elbows while he apes around with a manic grin on his face. If he detects me looking at him oddly, to his credit Vasilis never lets on. 

Anyway, to my surprise and total delight he greeted me like a long-lost buddy, hugged the wife and promptly told the ticket man, whom I also remembered is called Sevgali (he's Bulgarian and has been with Vasili for many years), that we were guests and that we wouldn't be paying for our crossing. What a gent to make such a gesture. I can only assume that he remembers our conversations on the bridge of the Fedon two years ago, when I was working on the excursion and slipped him a card about this very blog and he'd gone looking at the photos and info about the vessel that I keep here on the "nearby Islands" page. In fact, it was from that page I'd retrieved his number when I called to check the sailing times.

Anyway, once aboard we went and sat in the downstairs lounge and waited for the departure. While sitting there with about ten minutes to go, the better half needed to go to the - as the Americans call it - "bathroom", even though there is rarely actually a bath in there and if it were it wouldn't be required for what we usually want to do once locked inside. When she returned, with still a few minutes to go before we cast off, she had an odd look on her face. It kind of said "Oh dear, I hope I haven't dispalyed my wares to the world." You know fellas, we can read that look can't we.

"Wassup?" I asked my beloved.

"Well," she replied, still rather flushed (in the face that is, of course) "The whole of one wall in the ladies loo is a window. It's not frosted, you can see right through it and there were a couple of crew men standing not six feet from it on the quayside. If they'd looked my way they'd have copped an eyeful."

"So, what did you do?" I asked her. She was wearing jeans by the way, not a skirt.

"Had no choice, I had to do what I went in there for. I was desperate. But it was very disconcerting to say the least!" Of course, in such circumstances the gallant hubby has to go and take a look doesn't he. Off I went and slipped into the ladies'. Incidentally, before I go on, I really liked the signs on the WC doors, what do you reckon to these then..?

I'd rather liked to have seen some facial expressions on those too, eh? Anyway, in I went to the ladies' loo opening the door to the first bit, where there's the mirror, the sink, the soap and paper towels and stuff, then through the 2nd door to the business unit. Sure enough, it feels like 70% of the far wall, which is the ship's hull, is see-thru glass. From the outside, it's the window I've circled below...

Of course, when you're at sea it wouldn't be a problem, but when the ship's tied up broadside to the quay, it really does put one off one's "flow" as it were. Fact is though, it's one-way glass. From the outside all the observer sees is a black panel. But it still shakes the resolve on the incumbent in that little room!!

We set out right on time at 9.15am and just 50 minutes later we were chugging in to Halki's wonderfully picturesque harbour, where some serious R&R awaited us if we had anything to do with it.

Part three will follow imminently.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Halkian Days (Don't tell me you don't understand that subtle and everso clever wordplay there)

According to the Oxford Dictionary, "Halcyon Days" is an expression used to describe a period of time in the past that was idyllically happy and peaceful. Well, since both her indoors and I still have work commitments as we fast approach the middle of October, we found that we had to scupper plans to visit good friends in Ira'petra, Crete, yet again and settle for a quick break of three days and two nights somewhere close by. With me having been to Halki every week during the summer season for three years on the trot, sometimes two days running during the high season, we decided that it was high time we went there simply to visit the place.

What is it that makes Halki special? Well, here are a few reasons for starters...

This is the view from the balcony of the "Marcos" Studio where we stayed. C'mon guys, can it get much better than this?

Another view from our balcony

Y'know, I don't like to sound as if I'm pulling rank or anything, but after all, one of the reasons why I can lay claim to having seen more of Greece than many non-Greeks (and a not a few Greeks probably) is the fact that I'm not as young as I used to be. I am, though still young (he hastens to add), it's just that I've been young for about five or six decades now, that's how I explain it anyway. When you've visited innumerable islands and a large part of the mainland too, you do have a good idea of what ingredients a place needs in order to qualify as the "real" Greece. Halki has all the ingredients to bake a perfect Greek sojourn. That's it in a nutshell.

So, a week or so ago we decided that we'd just up and go. After all I do have contacts over there which were going to make it easy to arrange accommodation and make for some pleasant social intercourse (steady - I did say SOCIAL, get it right!), so a couple of phone calls soon got us fixed up with a modest little studio with a view TDF (see photos above) and, after asking a friend who still does Halki as an excursion and who evidently wasn't the person to ask in the end 'cos she does it from the North of Rhodes and hence didn't seem to be up on the ferry schedules from Kamiros Skala, I remembered (pause for embarrassment to pass) that my very own "Nearby Islands" page on this very blog carries the phone number of Vasili, who captains the rather sleek Fedon...

The Fedon tied up at Kamiros Skala - ain't she a beaut?
One phone call to Vasili and we were assured that she was departing from Kamiros Skala as hoped for at 9.15am on Wednesday October 8th. We bunged some stuff into a cloth case, stuffed a holdall with the rest and set off at around 8.00am that very morning to drive over to Kamiros Skala and jump aboard.

Episode 2 will follow shortly!!!